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Snowshoeing with Dogs


Nothing will rile a cross-country skier quite like grooved tracks obliterated by snowshoes (I still remember the barely concealed disdain of those whose tracks I tromped through with my brand-new Tubbs) and dog paws. “That’s what people pay to ski in,” says Llona Ney Clausen, manager of the Nordic & Snowshoe Center at Tamarack Resort in Donnelly, Idaho, where four-legged guests are welcome on all 22 kilometers of groomed trails.

If dogs are allowed off-leash, Clausen says, they should respond perfectly to voice commands. “If your dog can [be depended on to respond to your verbal commands], regardless of distractions, you may not have to have him on a leash,” she explains. “The biggest problem will be, of course, when a dog meets another dog.”

In our beloved forest, the afternoon light is fading as we navigate one last ridge; the maples, the river and the rambling stone walls are studies in gray. The dogs have fallen in behind us, their way of saying it’s time to go home. At the trailhead, we shoulder our snowshoes and shuffle toward the house as the moon rises through the trees like a plump yellow balloon. Maggie and Truman are—you guessed it—dog-tired, and in moments, will be snoring and twitching in front of a blaze roaring on our big stone hearth. During the dog days of winter, we’re certain, snowshoeing is part of their four-legged dreams.



This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 40: Jan/Feb 2007
Andi Marie Cantele is the author of Backroad Bicycling in Western Massachusetts and 52 Weekends in Connecticut (both from Countryman Press), among others; she lives in Connecticut.
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Submitted by Anonymous | November 22 2009 |

Snowshoeing with your dog(s) is a great activity but for a little more excitement add geocaching to the mix. Many geocaches are reachable when snowshoeing. This high tech scavenger hunt doesn't have to be a spring, summer and fall sport. For a list of dog friendly geocaches go to www.dogcacher.com.

Submitted by Anonymous | December 13 2009 |

As an alternative to booties, a 'mushers wax' can be applied to paws (on and in between pads) to prevent snow clumps. This product was designed for sled dogs, but works for everyone. It can be found at many pet stores in a variety of brands. Tried it out for my constantly-clumpy-pawed dog and it works great. No more fussing with booties.
Happy trails!

Submitted by Kyle Hansen | January 5 2010 |

thanks for the good article, I'll be out there on the next snow day.

Submitted by southerner | February 16 2010 |

How would a small dog handle deep snow? Larger dogs exert more energy, but would a small athletic dog be able to bound through deep snow? I'm thinking of Breeds like a Shiba Inu or Australian cattle dog.

Submitted by Nina Wasserman | September 14 2011 |

Would Andi Cantele be interested in being interviewed for exceptionalcanine.com? We are looking for someone with experience snowshoeing with dogs. Thanks.

Submitted by Shelly | March 2 2012 |

This was beautifully written. It painted a picture in my mind that warmed my heart. I was thinking about taking my pooch snowshoeing tomorrow morning...now my mind is set. Thanks for the inspiration.

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